Eli Harris, co-founder and chief executive of EcoFlow, says River was intended to fill the sizeable gap between a Tesla Powerwall, which can charge an electric car, and the pocketable powerpacks that keep our smartphones topped up. While the battery cell technology is by this point pretty much a commodity, EcoFlow claims its expertise – drawn from several employees’ time at DJI, the drone maker – is in the software and circuitry that regulates the energy flow. For instance, it turns itself off when a device is fully charged or if the battery overheats. EcoFlow says River can keep almost all of its charge for up to a year, although I have not had it long enough to test that claim. While the River is versatile, powerful and portable, I found that it takes quite a while to charge up using the panel – even in sunny LA, it took several days, not the 10-15 hours that EcoFlow advertises. That might be because I was not moving the panels around to the optimal angle for the sun every hour, but I am not sure that is a reasonable request for most people. That means it takes a little too long to top up between charges. To truly take my electronics off-grid, I would probably need two batteries, one to charge while the other is in use. At about $600 each, it is hard to make a cost-saving argument for the purchase, even if the environmental benefits are sound.
FT 25th Aug 2017 read more »